California, our largest state with 12 percent of the national population, and deeply affected by the Great Recession, is a microcosm of American politics, and the upcoming races for Governor and Senator are fascinating.
The Republican party will see combative races between relatively unknown conservatives, who have no chance of winning these races, and two well known CEOs of technology companies and both female, but without political experience–Meg Whitman of Ebay for Governor and Carly Fiorina of Hewlett Packard for Senator.
Without any political experience except for backing John McCain for President last year, these two women may have a tough time even being nominated, but even when nominated over their more conservative opponents, the chances of either of them winning a state wide race seem astronomical, despite the tormenting economic conditions faced in the state, where Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is consumed with massive debt problems as he finishes his last year in office in 2010.
Former Governor Jerry Brown and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom are locked in a battle, which seems to favor Brown, now the state Attorney General, but highlighted by Bill Clinton’s endorsement of Newsom, primarily because of Brown’s bruising challenge of Clinton’s primary race for President in 1992, demonstrating that Bill Clinton does not forget when people have wronged him. The odds would still be on Brown, despite his flaky background when Governor from 1975-1983, and his three runs for President in 1976, 1980, and 1992. He may very well go from being the youngest Governor in California history to its oldest, returning to the job he had 28-36 years ago by the time he would become Governor again in January 2011. Newsom faces the controversy over supporting and promoting gay marriage, which has now been rejected by California voters in the referendum last November, but is young, vigorous and handsome and a sign of the future in American politics, so cannot be ruled out.
Meanwhile, Senator Barbara Boxer, while controversial since her election to the Senate in 1992, is still very likely to be reelected. What is clear in both the gubernatorial and senatorial races is the reality of possibly the highest amount of money spent ever, except in a presidential race.
Even if the Democrats lose seats in the Senate and some governorships nationally, they are likely to keep the Senate seat of Boxer and gain the gubernatorial seat of Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, who should be relieved when he no longer has the burden of what is an impossible job–governing California, the eighth largest economy in the world!